Week In Review

March 05, 2006

Police Chief Livesay keeping job, for now

Howard County Executive James N. Robey and Police Chief Wayne Livesay have decided that Livesay will remain in office for at least several more months while he runs for County Council.

Robey said Livesay would leave his job as chief to campaign, but not until the Police Department completes a reaccreditation evaluation.

Livesay changed his party registration from Democrat to Republican when he filed Feb. 22 to run for the council in District 5. The move was called "political opportunism" by his primary rival, Greg Fox.

Livesay, 54, a 34-year police veteran and Howard's chief since 1998, has not formally launched his campaign.

County law does not require his resignation. Robey retired as police chief in January 1998 to run for county executive, which is when Livesay became chief.

Battle lines are being drawn for the Sept. 12 primary between Livesay and Fox, 38, of Fulton, who announced his candidacy last summer, though Republicans claim Livesay's entry into the race will not lead to a bitter fight.

County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a western county Republican, has jumped firmly on Livesay's bandwagon, while state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, who held the council seat for six years, is just as firmly behind Fox.

Donald Dunn, the only Democrat in the race, said he is waiting to see what develops.

"It will liven up what would otherwise have been a fairly dull primary," he said.

Howard section, Wednesday.

School board OKs record budgets

The Howard County Board of Education has approved a record $654.5 million yesterday for the 2007 operating and capital budgets, knowing that the county plans to provide less money than a year ago.

The board has requested $87.1 million from the county but received word last month from County Executive James N. Robey's office that the county intended to fund $64.2 million, a $7 million decrease from last year.

Still, the board increased by $205,500 a previously proposed operating budget of $554.3 million by Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin and made no changes to a $99.975 million capital budget request.

The decrease in county funds could delay much-needed renovation projects at Worthington Elementary School and Clarksville Middle School, according to board members. Renovations at Centennial Lane and Clarksville elementary schools are not expected to be affected because both are in the second year of funding.

The 2007 capital budget also includes $15 million for a northeastern elementary school; $20.5 million for a replacement building for Bushy Park Elementary; and about $4 million for additions at Waverly, Centennial Lane and Running Brook elementary schools.

The operating budget would fund 130 new teaching positions; increase teachers' salaries by 3.5 percent; provide $70.1 million for special education, an increase of $4.8 million; spend $1.5 million to add all-day kindergarten at 10 elementary schools; and pay for $10 million in employee benefits.

The 9.9 percent increase to the 2007 operating budget is attributed to higher gasoline prices, rising health care and improved teachers' salaries.

Howard section, Wednesday.

CA forming co-op to buy electricity

The Columbia Association is forming a purchase co-operative that will give residents and businesses in the community the opportunity to buy electricity at a discount rate.

Prices will go up in July when the six-year state freeze on electricity rates expires. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers reportedly will pay 40 percent to 80 percent more.

The deadline for proposals for an energy consultant to create, manage and operate the program is March 24, and the consultant would be selected by May 1. The official starting date of the co-op will be determined after the consultant is hired.

Last year, the association met with an energy consultant to discuss the cooperative. The consultant's report said the co-op could save homeowners an estimated 6 percent to 11 percent a year.

Electricity co-ops are nonprofit electric utilities, owned by the members they serve.

Howard section, Wednesday.

Ex-auto dealership up for county lease

The county is moving to solve several headaches by leasing a former auto dealership on Ridge Road near U.S. 40 in Ellicott City for a new vehicle maintenance facility shared with the county school system.

If the County Council approves the lease tomorrow night as expected, the 30-year deal would save $11 million intended for a planned new facility off Route 100 at Old Montgomery Road -- where Brightfield Farms residents don't want it, fearing noise, lights and traffic.

The 6-acre former Pontiac dealership will provide a place to centralize work on police cars and other light vehicles, as well as firetrucks, while giving the school system a place to store groundskeeping equipment.

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